Montoursville Area School Board features race in Region 3

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Today the Williamsport Sun-Gazette continues its look at the key contests for municipal, township and school board nominations in the May 21 primary election. Installments each day through Saturday will focus on a different race.)

Five candidates are seeking nominations in the primary election for Montoursville Area School Board.

William Ruffing, Dora Pioli and Scott Konkle are seeking two ballot spots from Region 3 of the district.

All three are running for the four-year seat on both the Democratic and Republican tickets.

Region 3 candidate James Bergen is running unopposed for a two-year seat.

George Hagemeyer is the only candidate seeking the Region 1 seat.

Ruffing said, as a 19-year resident of Montoursville and a common sense conservative, he’s qualified to serve on the school board.

“It’s a desire to represent all the taxpayers, and I think I have the ability to do that,” he said.

Ruffing, of 329 Arch St. in Montoursville, said he has been interested in public service in recent years.

And now, the time is right for him to serve the public.

Ruffing said he would have no agenda as a board member.

As a school director, he would consider both what is necessary for the district and the taxpayers’ pocketbooks.

“Our students are our future,” he said. “We need to balance that with the quality of education and what the taxpayers can afford.”

Ruffing said some of his main concerns include the safety and security of students.

“Another big thing is cuts in education,” he said. “Unfunded state mandates create a big challenge for our school districts, and certainly Montoursville is not exempt from that.”

Ruffing said he has no problem with the present makeup of the school board or the way it operates.

“I just think from time to time you need fresh faces and new ideas and someone who can see things from a different perspective,” he said. “I have a desire to work with a good and effective school board.”

Ruffing is married and the father of three.

He is employed as a sales representative with Commonwealth Altadis.

Pioli, of 514 Arch St. in Montoursville, is a longtime incumbent board member, who wants to continue serving on the board as a way to help provide the best school district possible for employees and students.

“I understand the culture and the needs of the schools and the community,” said Pioli, a retired district employee.

Pioli said she loves the district and as a former school secretary and library employee, she is in tune with its needs.

She said she can balance both its needs with its expenses.

“I can offer the experience of having worked in the district,” she said. “I have a common sense approach.”

Pioli said she is sensitive to any tax increases.

“My position is I will vote against it,” she said. “A local landlord called me and said, ‘You are my hero because you understand what a tax increase does to the community.’ “

Pioli, a widow, mother and grandmother, worked in the district for 16 years.

Konkle, of 1401 Jordan Ave. in Montoursville, the other incumbent candidate, said as a parent and citizen of the community he has an interest about what is going on in the district.

“It’s trying to make decisions for taxpayers and the public and working with the administration.”

Konkle said as a Montoursville Area High School graduate, he has a vested interest in the district.

A six-year board member, Konkle said he wants to be part of the decision-making process.

He likes the progress the district has made thus far and credited teachers with helping bring excellent academics.

“It’s important to see that the district does well and that taxpayers are getting the bang for their bucks,” he said.

Konkle said he is a good listener, and he’ll lend an ear to the voices of the public, district employees and others.

The job of school director can be difficult and time-consuming, with committee meetings and decisions to make, he noted.

“It’s not just one night a month,” he said.

On the other hand, Konkle said he is not one to micro-manage.

He said he’s not running with his eye toward any specific issue either.

Academics, sports, taxes are among the big matters to deal with.

“You look at all the issues,” he said.

Konkle is a supervisor at the 911 Center in Lycoming County.

His is married and the father of two children.